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From The Editor

Professing Indianness has taken media spending to a new high and journalistic ethics to a new low. There are marketing as well as editorial solutions to ‘nationality laundering’. A Chinese company of yesterday becomes an Indian company of today by simply advertising so. The benefits have been there for everyone to see. Uber CEO is happy to take on Indian nationality alongwith Indian Guest Editorship.

I am sure that there are far better ways to value-add and contribute to India, e.g., job generation for Indian youth and by building local manufacturing capabilities. It certainly is not government’s policy that Indian ownership be a qualifier for doing any business in India. The flip side of the same argument can be disastrous for India. Indian Startups merely replicating the Amazon and Uber models and incurring huge losses funded by crazy valuations and crazier venture capitalists abroad seek business protection and a monopoly status for merely holding an Indian Passport.

A perception is created that Visa and MasterCard charge 2 per cent fee on debit cards, it sinks in as big bad Americans in our national conscience. Who cares, if they charge exactly the same as RuPay? A security bogey is raised that MNC financial companies outsource critical work, while factually almost the entire Indian industry does so. And there are far more checks and balances placed in ‘finely honed’ global processes. In perception, only the multinational cards get breached and the Indian ones have discovered some foolproof space-age security? The ‘multinational’ switch can only get breached and not the ‘Indian’ ones!

Cyber security and IT infrastructure as a major area of concern was the refrain during the recently concluded SKOCH national consultation. Both Aruna Sundararajan, Secretary, MeitY and Gulshan Rai, National Cyber Security Coordinator, Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) flagged these. The consultation found compelling reason in bringing international best practices to bear to strengthen both the areas and realising the Digital India dream. Indian as well as global companies need to pull together on a level-playing field to make this happen. Cyber Security training at the frontline level as a key necessity need to be recognised without losing any further time. Sundararajan’s role in setting up Common Services Centres (CSCs) that are today emerging as frontline for digital services delivery in rural India is absolutely unprecedented. Most of the CSCs have started providing financial services taking a cue from Digital India and DigiDhan Abhiyan of MeitY and have upped their financial literacy initatives.

What is in fact needed is out-of-the-box thinking rather than either staid old formula maintaining the status quo or reinventing the wheel. Haryana has moved a motion, led by Principal Secretary-IT, Devender Singh, that all CSCs be converted into banking Business Correspondents (BCs) immediately to ease the situation in rural areas. This immediately solves the problem of last-mile connectivity. Corporate BCs like Suvidhaa Infoserve can immediately come on-board to take on such initiatives.

Another case of out-of-the-box thinking is what Ram Sewak Sharma proposed: promote the use of Digital TV for delivery of digital services and IT infrastructure. Given that large number of Indian populace has Digital TV connections, the idea, if clicked, will massively catapult the delivery of digital services.

Jai Hind!

Sameer Kochhar

Sameer Kochhar, Chairman of SKOCH Group, is a passionate advocate of social, financial and digital inclusion. In 1997, after spending 15 years in the corporate world, he decided to follow his inner calling and become a development thinker. Ever since, he single-mindedly applied himself to the rigours of self-education, academic research and field tours. The SKOCH Group – which has a think tank, media and consultancy arms – was established as part of this endeavour. His expert opinion is sought by the government. In Kochhar's thinking, writings and activities, his profound admiration for Indiaís economic reforms – and in extension, those outstanding personalities who strive to make these reforms more meaningful and broad-based – comes out clear and unambiguous.
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